How does the faithful professional sync up with God about pursuing human knowledge?
I had 15 mins to get to the conference room for my first break-out session. Conveniently, it was right next door to the ballroom where the main session had just concluded to kick off the project management conference. This gave me some time to peruse the avenue of sponsor tables and booths. Amid the raffles and standard freebies of pens and water bottles, my eyes were captivated by the shimmer of the glossy covers from the rows of books displayed on every table. They all offered so many alluring promises. 30 days to a better you. Developing a career path to the job of your dreams. Working your network to get you where you want to be today. I recognized some of the titles as books recommended by leaders in my company. I began to assess which ones I should purchase. After all, that’s what I was there for, right? To hone my skills and obtain resources to help accelerate my growth as a top professional in my field. But as I picked up one of the books something inside of me recoiled with the sound of a single question ringing in my mind. “Is pursuing human knowledge harmful to my faith life?
As professionals, we all want to learn more. We all want knowledge to stay ahead of the curve among our peers. But does the pursuit of human knowledge equivalent to denying the wisdom of our faith?
Here are a few things thoughts to help us stay in sync with God on how to pursue knowledge with wisdom.
Put Your Trust in the Right Place
There is absolutely nothing wrong with pursuing knowledge. Developing a skill, learning a new technique, increasing your expertise; these are all worthy endeavors. Proverbs 18:15 extols the heartfelt pursuit of knowledge as the behavior of the wise. But we live in the information age. Knowledge is now considered an asset and the temptation is strong to put our trust in it, to make it an idol. However, our faith teaches us to not put trust in human knowledge, which perishes with changing times, but rather in the ever present power of God (I Cor. 2:1-6). Knowledge has its place in our lives but it should never usurp the position of God’s power in our hearts.
Read with Gospel Lenses
Anyone who has ever taken an eye exam with less than perfect vision knows that the first time you read the letters on the chart won’t be the same as the second time. You start out being certain that the first letter is a “B”. But a couple of flips on the phoropter makes you realize the “B” is actually an “E”. What changed? You finally were reading through the right lenses. Similarly, in our pursuit of knowledge we must be vigilant to make sure we are reading all information through the lens of the Gospel. Let’s be honest, there are a lot of philosophies and best practices that sound great; many with a track record of success. But how often has time revealed devastating flaws in the human philosophies that captivate so many people? When we read all information through the perspective of the Gospel we have an opportunity to evaluate if what we are reading is vain, empty, and contrary to Christ (Colossians 2:8). We must ask ourselves if any of the information is setting itself against Christ or His teachings. It may sound a little spiritually fastidious but none of us are exempt from the allure of appealing false teaching (2 Tim. 4:3). Even a curse can read like a blessing if we’re not using the right glasses.
Remember the God Factor
We can read about the 10 best ways to get a promotion, study the 20 steps for succeeding in business, or memorize the laws of exponential revenue growth. The hard truth we must accept is that God may have something else in mind for us despite our steady application of best practices. It’s called the God factor. We can do everything “right” according to human knowledge but God can send our plans in a completely different direction (Psalm 16:9). The key to not becoming frustrated is to remember that what may be good to us always pales in comparison to God’s best for us. The God factor is never a detour, it’s a course correction (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Words for Syncing
Sync a little deeper…
Why is it so easy to think the Bible has no application in the business world or career planning?
When was the last time you caught yourself putting your trust in a human teaching over God’s power regarding your career? What happened?
Reread a self-improvement book (business or personal) through the lens of the Gospel. What do you notice that you didn’t before?